U.S. District Judge Neal McCurn yesterday upheld the NCAA's redshirt rule, ending the 1985 football season for Cornell University junior Tom McHale.

In a 10-page ruling in Syracuse, McCurn denied McHale a preliminary injunction against the NCAA and Cornell. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end sought to play this season for the Big Red although he had not been on the Cornell campus a full calendar year, as required by the NCAA, which adopted the rule to keep players from jumping from school to school.

McHale left the University of Maryland after the 1983-84 school year not to play in a better program, but to enroll in Cornell's acclaimed School of Hotel Administration. He was accepted last fall and enrolled in January 1985. McCurn ruled against McHale's argument that he was not recruited and that his playing, therefore, "would not subvert the rule." . . .

One current freshman each on the University of North Carolina basketball and football teams scored below 500 combined on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, according to university data released this week under a freedom-of-information request by a Greensboro newspaper.

For incoming freshmen this year, the other three basketball recruits scored at least 700 out of a combined 1,600 on the SAT. In football, two other recruits scored under 600, and 10 of the 23 recruits scored under 700. At North Carolina State, of five basketball recruits, one scored under 600, one scored under 700, two scored between 700 and 900 and one scored in excess of 1,000. In football, 11 of 26 scored less than 700, one scored less than 600.

The new figures also reveal that only eight of UNC's 15 basketball players who entered school between 1978 and 1981 have graduated. That includes one of five in the class of '85. Coach Dean Smith said the overall figures cast "an unfair shadow" on his program because of the four who have not graduated in the class of '85, one is finishing school at UNC, two have transferred and are completing their degree work elsewhere and the fourth, Michael Jordan, left college early to play pro basketball.

The study also showed that 43 of 99 football players who entered UNC between the fall of 1978 and the fall of 1981 graduated . . .

Four former Texas Christian University football players will remain on full scholarship through an agreement reached between their lawyer and a university lawyer. The former players, Egypt Allen, Marvin Foster, Gary Spann and Gearld Taylor, were among seven suspended in September by TCU Coach Jim Wacker for receiving cash payments from boosters.

"This agreement is good until they get their degrees," attorney Spencer Kopf said. "The scholarships are good through the spring of 1986, and funds will be made available as if they are on scholarship thereafter."

The players also had asked to be reinstated to the team, but they were turned down.

A source told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the players would cooperate with the NCAA investigation as part of the scholarship agreement . . .

Pat Denning, new assistant basketball coach for the men's team at Illinois-Chicago, says her coaching style may be different because she's a woman, but her boss says she won't be a "house mom."

"I'm not a screamer, but when I ask them to do something it's done," said Denning, who is believed to be the first woman with game and practice coaching responsibilities in an NCAA Division I men's program.

Mary Fenlon is an assistant basketball coach at Georgetown University, but her duties are restricted to academic counseling. Denning, who was on the court when practice began Wednesday, will have some scouting duties, in addition to handling academic counseling for team members. Denning, 35, has 15 years of high school teaching experience in the Chicago public school system and coached freshman-sophomore basketball at a North Side high school . . .

Two undefeated and nationally ranked cross country teams will meet today when the Naval Academy hosts Auburn. The Midshipmen, 8-0 in dual meets, are ranked 13th in the country; the Tigers (4-0) are fourth-ranked. The meet begins at 10:30 a.m.